19th Aug 2016, 12:00 AM
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LilyRose 19th Aug 2016, 12:00 AM edit delete
Chapter Eight

A dream: she’s at work, sitting at the radio station’s ancient mainboard; used faithfully for Lo these past thirty years. Luna’s been working this antique board for ten of those years; a solid decade, and half of it on the night shift; Monday through Saturday, seven p.m. to midnight.

A dream – but it’s not a dream; she’s really here, here in this place. She’s really here, it just feels like a dream. The round black pot knobs on the board seem swollen with meaning, as though by just touching them, she becomes a conduit for whatever energies channel through their system. The muted measures of canned Big Band music coming through the studio monitor are only there to mask another music; something playing underneath them, something subaudible, subtonic.

Everything is the same; everything is different. That’s always the way it is, when Luna crosses over. It’s not that anything has changed; it’s just that there’s so much more of it. She lines up the prerecorded ad carts for the spot break coming up, and their labels seem to defy her to make sense of them; to find the hidden message: LoriAnne’s Greenhouse; Big Red Barn; Hassenpfeffer Printing; Bonesetter Farms. It rings like a mantra in her head. The music of somewhere else.

The second hand sweeps the face of the clock, moving in one-second jerks. The last song in the set; some sugary bit of fluff from Doris Day, ends at exactly ten minutes to ten. Luna starts up the first spot; LoriAnne’s Greenhouse Xmas special; all wreaths, Poinsettias, and Holly Bushes half price now until Xmas. The music for the spot is the generic 60-second bed from the music service’s CD. They’ve got it down to a science; writing music that sounds like every Christmas song you ever heard without sounding like anything at all. As though there was a secret chord, that, once used, cut right through to the heart of memory. Sympathetic vibrations.

Luna looks at the playlist. Three and a half minutes of ads; then a Sinatra tune, one of the Billy May arrangements. Time: 3:56. The song after that; a Dick Haymes croonfest; 2:34. Add to that the five second station ID, and that’s a perfect backtiming to the top of the hour, when Luna switches over to the network hourly newscast. Right to the second. Too perfect. Too right. She watches the second hand tick, a countdown to fate.

LoriAnne’s Greenhouse; Big Red Barn; Hassenpfeffer Printing; Bonesetter Farms. The music starts again; smarmy, smug Sinatra, as real as the Cheshire Cat. Crazy things only look crazy from the outside. Once she’s crossed over, Luna can always see how it may not make sense, but it’s right nonetheless. Everything is different; everything is the same.

The second hand slouches toward Bethlehem. She’s not ready for this. It’s come upon her too suddenly; this awareness that a moment has arrived; that things have come together and are about to form critical mass. The herald of this moment; there right before her. Things adding up. LoriAnne’s Greenhouse, Big Red Barn. It’s like a koan, a riddle-song; you can’t understand it until you think outside of the box. Hassenpfeffer Printing, Bonesetter Farms. Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes. Dead people. All adding up. All counting down to a moment, a second-slash on the face of the clock.

The clock is oversized; a big, white face, bright as the moon, pocked with black lines and numbers. It hangs on a wall of cork; the closest thing this studio has to soundproofing. There are signs hanging near it; Magic Marker on Posterboard. REMEMBER TO BACK-ANNOUNCE. ALWAYS ANNOUNCE TIME DIGITALLY. WEATHER 3X AN HOUR. They seem to be written in another language; one that Luna knows but can’t quite recall. There is something so familiar about it all; this sense of impending crisis; a sense that she’s not leaving, but returning.

Luna shoves the microphone, on it’s spring-loaded, insectile arm, out of her face. She won’t need it again until the hour has turned. Dick Haymes is winding down. She can’t even understand what he’s singing, it’s an imposter Dick Haymes, singing in Parsee, or Zulu, some language that’s just musical noise to her. She’s inside of a minute, now, and Luna spins the network feed pot down to zero and flips the transmit switch to on. She places her left hand on the music feed, and watches the clock, waiting for the moment when she strikes one circuit dead, and opens up another.

The needle in the VU meter throbs like a dull heartbeat, the peaks just barely reaching into the red. The second hand matches the music in a syncopated beat. Everything seems poised for a trip into the unknown. Luna has the oddest sense of a great heat about to be poured into her brain. Or a wind, maybe, blowing her way, and only now are the leaves and grass beginning to shiver.

Everything does add up, somewhere down the line. There is such a thing as critical mass. That’s what transformation is all about. It’s the Death card in the Tarot deck. Do atoms know, when they are about to be transformed? Luna thinks they do. If you’re paying attention, the signs will come to you. But only when it’s too late to do anything about it. In the end, there is only surrender.

The second hand hit’s the ten-mark, and begins working it’s way up to twelve. Jerk-jerk-jerk. Luna thinks of the ball coming down in Times Square on New Years’ eve. She even has time to think of the one and only time she’d actually been there for it; when she was a sophomore at State College. It had sucked; it was a terrible time. But that was then. This is now.

And the second hand hits the twelve. Everything is different; everything is the same...
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